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Monthly Archives: September 2011
Day Two was dominated by Soul and Rhythm and Blues. The first band we saw Saturday morning was Aloe Blacc and the Grand Scheme. Aloe was like going back in time and seeing Marvin Gaye or Sam Cooke. The second song he played his band took us through the various styles of James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Sam and Dave, and (ironicly) Stevie Wonder who would be the last artist of this day at ACL. Aloe Black is just fantastic. He has one of the most infectious hits out right now. Once you hear: “I need a Dollar…” it will be stuck in your head forever. The song is a big hit in England but for some reason has not gotten a lot of air play in the United States. Here’s the video:
Once again, England seems to appreciate our music first. What’s up with that? Aloe is from California. I believe he is going to be a huge artist. His debut album is called Good Things.
Next up, at the other end of the park, was another amazing band called Young the Giant. All four members of this band are from different countries. (Indian, Persian, English, and French-Canadian) Their band of rock and roll is dynamic, rhythmic and infectious. The lead singer plays the tambourine so well it becomes an integral part of their sound. The lead singer sounded like a cross between Harry Connick, Jr. and Michael Hutchence. He had stage presence and a very powerful voice. They played to a huge crowd and they rocked! I highly recommend this band. It rained during their set and the rain stayed around for a couple of hours. The crowd reveled in the rain.
At this point in the day the other two people I was with split up to see different bands. I chose to see the living legend Daniel Lanois’.
Daniel Lanois is one of the most famous producers in the history of rock. He produced albums for U2, Peter Gabriel, Bod Dylan, Brian Eno, Willie Nelson, Neil Young and many others. He also has a few solo albums out I would strongly recommend. Especially For the Beauty of Wynona. His new band Black Dub features a very talented musician named Trixie Whitley. She sang lead vocal on most of the songs. For good measure she also played drums, (see the picture above) guitar, and keyboards. She had a powerful blues laced voice. The “Dub” in “Black Dub” does not refer to Dubbstep like you would think. The music was Louisiana blues laced rock and roll. They turned in a short but powerful set. Daniels guitar playing was simply brilliant.
After the Lanois set I had to walk a the way down to the end of the park where the Budweiser stage was in order to catch Allison Krauss and Union Station. The crowd was huge and by the time I got there they were a few songs into their set. They put on a beautiful blue grass show. This band is full of fantastic musicians not the least of which is Allison Krauss herself. The music was so intimate and the crowd was so large that some of the impact of the music was difficult to experience.
As the sun began to set Cee-Lo and his all woman band took the stage. His band walked out first. 6 statuesque women wearing solid red jump suits or dresses, except for the mix-master who was dressed in a solid gold jump suit. Next Cee-lo came out in a black sweat suit with red stripes down the side. All he did was put on the most intense R & B show you could ever imagine. He rocked the stage with power and presence. He was also a lot of fun. He was the perfect warm-up band before the main event of the day: The headline act of Stevie Wonder.
I feel a little foolish trying to comment or critique the performance of the musical treasure that is Stevie Wonder, but I’ve come this far so there is no turning back. As Cee-Lo was performing a steady stream of people kept coming into the Budlite stage area. By the time Stevie Wonder came on the crowd was so enormous it was almost scary. The Austin paper estimated that 70,000 saw the Stevie Wonder Set. There were probably at least another 30,00 at the other end of the park at the AMD stage to see My Morning Jacket.
Stevie played a greatest hits plus he covered a Michael Jackson song. When he came out he said “You are about to go to the school of Wonder!.” He and his band were simply wonderful. The bass player and drummers were especially great. His set included Higher Ground, Sir Duke, Living in the City, My Cherie Amore, and on and on it goes. The only thing that marred his set was his decision to be political. This is what he meant by “The School of Wonder”. He begged the audience to support Barak Obama, (I thought this would be greeted with huge applause in the most liberal city in Texas, but surprisingly there were more boo’s than cheers) he challenged people to financially support education for children, he asked people to support gun control, (from the reaction of the crowd I can only deduce that Democrats like guns as much as Republicans in Texas) he asked that the crowd not support capital punishment ( again greeted with a lot of jeers). It is disappointing to me to go see such amazing performer and feel I was at a political rally. His music saved the day but I would have enjoyed it more without the politics. There was perfect symmetry to the day as the day started with the R & B of Aloe Blacc and end with the R & B of Cee-Lo and Stevie Wonder.
Next blog up will be the third and final day of Austin City Limits.
Let me know your thoughts.
Austin City Limits Music Festival is an extremely well run event. We are a little late getting to the event but that was our own fault. As we walked in to the front gate “Asleep at the Wheel” was already performing on the AMD stage. I guess it’s in my Texas blood, but I really love Texas Swing. This is original Texas music invented in Texas by the great Bob Wills. We watched half their set and they were awesome. We didn’t want to miss another band that overlapped ASW so moved over to the BMI stage to catch ha-Ha Tonka.
It rained on us during the ha-Ha Tonka set. People were dancing and laughing because they were so glad to see rain in Central Texas! It has been a long hot summer!
The bands I saw yesterday are as follows:
Asleep at the Wheel, ha-Ha Tonka, Wild Beasts, Brandi Carlile, James Blake, Ray LaMontagne, Cold War Kids, Bright Eyes, and Cold Play.
ha-Ha Tonka was a mandolin driven country rock band. More rock than country. They had a great positive vibe to their music. Wild Beast was Spacey, they had a great lead singer. Their sound was almost spooky. It was a layered synthesizer sound. Moody, with falsetto vocals and a hint of The Killers. They were from England. Brandi Carlile is from Seattle Washington. She has an awesome country rock band! She is a very charismatic performer. They played an awesome set. Next was the very strange and weird James Blake. I don’t know what to say about him. Dubb Step? Sub Dubb? Rub-a-dub? Who knows? total club music. The sound system was amazing. You could here the sound spinning around you like a Pink Floyd show. Ray LaMontagne put on a great show that everyone wanted to be at, but no one wanted to listen to. Great artist in the wrong venue. I’d love to see him in a small hall where you could really enjoy the subtle intricacy of his music. Cold War Kids were the surprise of the day to me. They totally Rocked!!! They also had a cool funk edge to their sound that really gets under your skin. They had lots of fans there and they only have two records out. I predict big things from Cold War Kids. Bright Eyes seized the stage the moment they came out and just relentlessly burned the house down. Their set can only be described as searing. Wow! What a band! Last but far from least Cold Play was just awesome! They just make you feel good. A huge crowd singing and dancing full of happiness. The world could use a little more positive vibe today. Their sound was amazing and the light show was mind boggling. My piano teacher used to tell me that a sound wave traveled into space forever once you released it into your universe. In the case of Cold Play, I hope they keep sending those positive vibes out for a long, long time to come…
Headed to the largest annual Rock show in the state of Texas! Here’s a picture of the 3 day wrist band.
This is a follow up to the blog about the greatest live recordings of all time. I really wanted to share the Johnny Cash recording. So here it is in it’s entirety. Each side will be presented as one track. This will allow you to hear all of the banter between songs In the words of Johnny Cash: “Listen closely to this album and you hear in the background the clanging of the doors, the shrill of the whistle, the shout of the men – even laughter from men who had forgotten how to laugh.”
This record was made on Johnny’s fourth trip to Folsom prison. It was Johnny’s idea to do a live album from prison. It took him six years to convince Columbia records to allow him to record the album in Folsom.
Side one begins with the song you would expect: “Folsom Prison Blues”. The crowd erupts accordingly. Other highlights are “Cocaine Blues ” and “The Long Black Veil”. This last song is covered on Roseanne Cash’s album “The List”. “The List” is a recording that Roseanne made after her father died. Before his death he gave her a list of 10 songs that he felt she should record. Both Johnny’s version and Roseanne’s versions are riveting. Forgive the long pauses before the music starts. I forgot to edit the tracks before I uploaded them.
The tracks are as follows:
Folsom Prison Blues
Dark As The Dungeon, I Still Miss Someone, Cocaine Blues, 25 Minutes To Go, Orange Blossom Special, The Long Black Veil
The Tracks are as follows:
Send A picture Of Mother, The Wall, Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog, Flushed From The Bathroom Of Your Heart, Jackson (Sung with his wife, June Carter), give My Love To Rose (Also with June Carter), I Got Stripes, Green, Green Grass Of Home, and Greystone Chapel.
The set list is not an escape from a prison life but a confrontation of prison life. It seems that Johnny Cash wants the concert to be a catharsis of the audiences suppressed emotions. He forces them to feel what they don’t want to remember: like how much they miss home or their mother, what the crimes were that got them into prison in the first place, the shame and loneliness of prison life. The performances are raw and emotional. The song “Greystone Chapel” was written by a prisoner at Folsom named Glen Sherley. I’ll let Johnny tell you in his own words how this song came to be on the album:
“The night before I was going to record at Folsom prison, I got to the motel and a preacher friend of mine brought me a tape of a song called “Greystone Chapel.” He said a convict had written it about the chapel at Folsom. I listened to it one time and I said, “I’ve got to do this in the show tomorrow.” So I stayed up and learned it, and the next day the preacher had him in the front row. I announced, “This song was written by Glen Sherley.” It was a terrible, terrible thing to point him out among all those cons, but I didn’t think about that then. Everybody just had a fit, screaming and carrying on.”
Johnny Cash helped Glen become a country music star. Glen had success at first, but had a terrible time trying to cope with stardom. As his fame faded he ended up homeless, living out of his truck, and helping to feed cattle. On May 11, 1978 he took his own life by shooting himself in the head. All this underscores what was at the heart of Johnny Cash doing this album. Johnny Cash had a deep belief that Prison does not rehabilitate people. Johnny Cash was just like the rest of us. He was unable to help save a man from himself. Who really can? What is great is that Johnny Cash tried so hard to make a difference in the lives of so many men that the rest of the world had already tossed aside like yesterday’s garbage. God bless Johnny Cash and God bless all of the other Glen Sherley’s of the world…